Below is a note I sent to the leaders in our church last week. I hope you find it encouraging as well and are able to put it into practice in your fellowship.
“Excel still more.” Rather than being a reference to a Microsoft Office product, “Excel still more” is part of Paul’s encouragement to the church in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 4:9–10 (NASB95) – 9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
Paul is commending the church for how they love one another, not only in their city, but throughout the province. Rather than rest on their accomplishments, Paul encourages them to keep up their efforts and even build on them.
I think this is an encouragement that we need as leaders of FCBC. Over the past few years, we have worked together to build and develop a sense of caring community. We have accomplished a great deal in meeting needs, praying for people, and caring for our congregation. Rather than pat ourselves on the back and say what a good job we did, we need to continue to work at building and strengthening our community.
Granted, we face unique challenges with the social distancing guidelines. As I have said several times recently, we are in uncharted, white water rapids of an undetermined length. That being said, we have untold opportunities to work with Christ in bringing caring ministry to our congregation.
Let me encourage you to reach out to the people in your class, small group, ministry team, and sphere of influence. Check their pulse and see how they are doing. Ask how you can pray for them. Ask if they have any needs that are going unmet. Schedule a Zoom conference call with your small group or class so the folks can see one another. Look for creative ways to stay connected with your folks even when we cannot be together physically.
One of my prayers for all of you and our congregation is that God would strengthen our faith during this crisis. In Luke 22:31–32, Jesus tells Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” God is doing a great deal of sifting during this pandemic. My prayer is that each of us will come through this with a stronger faith.
Let me also encourage to find something to praise God for every day. It is so easy to listen to the news and be consumed with fear over the dire reports and predictions. In spite of that, God is still firmly in control and will accomplish his plan and purpose. One thing I am thankful for is the technology available to us today to connect with people and proclaim the gospel. There is more ministry taking place and reaching more people through the internet than ever before. I praise God for that. I also praise God for faithful, generous givers. Despite not meeting together, our giving remains strong and we are ahead of budget. Praise God!
Please let me know how I can pray for you and serve you during this season.
Excel still more! Blessings to you.